GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Athletes from across the state and entire Midwest were competing in West Michigan this weekend for the 9th annual Grand Haven triathlon and duathlon.
The event sanctioned by the USA Triathlon features Olympic and sprint distance triathlons and a sprint duathlon.
And whether competing or cheering from the sidelines, the event has become more than just a race but a time honored summer pastime for the lake shore town.
“It’s an excellent tradition,” Rebecca Kaufman said, who was cheering on her son at the race’s finish line Sunday.
“After a winter we had, it’s so nice to have a summer event.”
The Grand Haven native said it’s her son’s second year competing in the race, the second of what she hopes will be many more.
“We will be regulars, I’m a mom of four sons and I have two more younger after him, so I expect to be here again,” she said.
“It’s wonderful in our own sandbox that we can host these kinds of events.”
This year the event featured about 400 racers, which is a little less than in previous years and mostly due to some being turned off the rain earlier in the morning, according to Lisa Highstreet, the volunteer coordinator for the race.
Even so, Highstreet acknowledging the decline is nothing to scoff at, noting plenty of families still came out to not only enjoy the race but the entire town for a weekend.
“It’s a tradition,” Highstreet said. “They come and they camp out for the weekend, or rent a cottage, they enjoy all the beaches and restaurants and make it a fun family event.”
Runner Spencer Shellberg, a student from Michigan State, said it was his first year racing in the triathlon but more than likely not his last.
“I just love the atmospher in this town and all the people around this sport,” he said after crossing the finish line. “It’s just a great thing to be around, people just getting out and exercising, it’s awesome.”
The swimming portion of the race was cancelled this year due to rough waves, according to Highstreet.
As in previous years, the race served as a memorial for Grand Haven native Tony Thompson, who died 10 years ago from a heart condition.
For more information on the triathlon and duathlon click here.